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Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies

GWH 1/48 Douglas TBD-1 Devastator

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Time to get this one back out of its box. One can never have too many ongoing projects :shutup:

It's a Great Wall Hobby kit, which I hadn't actually heard of but bought when I saw it at Flying Legends airshow last year (because the little pictures on the sides of the box looked good).

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I already have the Monogram kit in the stash, as well as the matching Eduard PE set.

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I also bought this decal set many years back.

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"The Battle of Midway" was one of those films I wore out on VHS, then bought again on DVD as a grown up (and "let" my daughters watch it). My dad explained that the aeroplanes in the movie clips were just stock footage but that was ok - I reconciled that - it was the militarily typical mix of blunders and luck interspersed with nuggets of personal stories that interested me and the interest with Midway in particular held. Ensign George Gay, the only survivor from USS Hornet's TBD squadron Torpedo 8 was played by this guy in the movie:

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The film was a dramatisation obviously, but quite a good one. Gay did indeed get a bullet in the arm and an injury to his hand, then ditched his damaged TBD close to the Japanese fleet. Whether already dead or just badly injured, the gunner in the aircraft sank with it leaving Gay to watch Akagi, Kaga and Soryu destroyed from a ring-side position, clinging to his seat cushion as the dive bomber squadrons arrived late and attacked unhindered - the Japanese A6M2s on CAP had either landed or were all at sea level chasing TBDs away.

I thought I'd use the GWH kit to build the Devastator Gay ditched during the battle. Then I noticed a problem.

The GWH kit is sold as 3 separate boxings. One is a floatplane version; fair enough. The other two strike me as a bit pointless, and although it's my own fault, it does underscore why I seldom buy a kit without researching first. You'd think a TBD-1 with wheels was a TBD-1 with wheels, right? Wrong. GWH moulded the torpedo and, crucially, the belly fairing it sits in on a separate sprue which isn't included in this boxing. For all it is, that's a little annoying frankly. It means this one only has a flat belly and a couple of firework-sized bombs. I could rob the Monogram kit, but that doesn't really solve anything long term. I could buy the Midway boxing of the GWH kit, now I know it exists, just to get that sprue, but at £40 a go that habit could get expensive.

The Wake Island campaign colours are attractive, so I have settled for those with this kit. Mr Gay can have the Monogram one which was the plan all along.

So, to business. I actually opened the box in November, then put it away again. My first mistake was to assume something, and spray the cockpit US Interior Green.

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This was in a big part influenced by GWH's avoidance of giving colour guidance on the cockpit - the instructions say "Cockpit Colour" - nicely done! I realised from looking at the fairly limited selection of public domain photographs that although very well detailed, the GWH cockpit didn't really resemble the real thing all that closely, so I turned to Eduard, and bought their pre-painted self-adhesive set, which came pre-painted in their version of US Interior Green which is a bit lurid.

Dana Bell gave me some advice on here that Devastators started off aluminium lacquer inside, but due to glare they were trialled and approved to be painted Bronze Green inside, and that they were probably all painted Bronze Green by Midway. I was still thinking of the Torpedo 8 scheme at that point, and accepting Dana's advice and caveats in the spirit they were intended, I reached a personal opinion that whatever colour they were inside, they probably weren't the tinted chromate US Interior Green. The only colour photos I could find were of a pair of Devastators lying under water. Sea water obviously distorts colour, but it was as plain as day that those two at least certainly weren't US Interior Green, but a much deeper, darker green. Whether they were the official shade of Bronze Green #9 or not - who knows, and frankly who cares? I resprayed the interior of the kit, and carefully masked and resprayed the green bits of the Eduard set in Bronze Green #9.

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Tonight I then realised I hadn't resprayed the kit's PE fret. I thought I'd show the two colours side by side in natural light for interest's sake. I painted it after this, as well as get two of the colours on the prop. The engine crank case is likewise painted.

 

It then dawned on me that by going for the Wake Island scheme, there's a risk that my TBD hadn't been repainted green inside, and may still be lacquered. Officially is seems it should have been repainted by that point (the colour was approved in 1939 IIRC?) so unless someone knows where there's a wreck from the Wake Island action that's silver inside, mine is going to be Bronze Green.

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A miniscule update. I added some seatbelts and glued in the seats and pedals. I then decided I wasn't really in the mood for photo etched brass and had some beef curry and a beer instead, then watched Top Gun because it's on Sky Movies just now.

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I think this may be one of the most protracted cockpit builds ever. The kit is good. The parts fit is great. I'm not convinced the Eduard set has really added much except a lot of time to it if I'm honest.

 

As such, many manhours and very little to show for it has tempered enthusiasm for the model. It'll pick up pace once the fuselage halves are closed up, I hope! The following photograph shows the interior subassembly and painting complete. As the Bronze Green would have been fairly new, I kept weathering to a minimum and instead focused on picking out highlights with some light brown washing, minimal chipping / scratching with a pencil and my trusty chalk pastels to add a little tonal variation.

 

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Me neither! Those crews didn't stand a chance against A6M2s, never mind Fw190s.

 

There's a 9 minute video on Youtube containing colour (color?) cinefilm of VT-8 filmed by order of the captain of USS Hornet. This footage is the last ever taken of the aircraft and flight crews of VT-8 with the sole exception of Ensign George Gay.

 

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Due to the fact that I am an idiot, this build stalled for a while. I tried the kit canopy masks but they are no use, being fairly stiff paper that couldn't conform. I was putting off buying Eduard ones but eventually discovered I already owned them :huh:

 

So, this afternoon I have primed and sprayed it.

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The underside was shaded in ACUS05 WW2 US Navy Light Gray

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Due to various reasons I am increasingly averse to anything that consumes time that doesn't stay on the model so I just did topsides colour all freehand. I thinned the ACUS06 WW2 US Navy Blue Gray heavily (i.e. 30/70 paint to thinners) and sprayed close in at 15psi.

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I had been trying Windsor and Newton acrylic gloss lately but I seem to achieve very soft finishes that seem to dissolve under Microsol. I anticipated heavy application of said chemical for this build so reverted to enamel gloss varnish which I applied yesterday and left overnight to cure fully.

 

Today I started on decals. I'm going really slow because the model's corrugated surface adds a layer of complexity to it anyway and my first impression of the GWH decals is that they are reluctant to soften under Microsol. We're getting there though and I'm happy with the results

 

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I don't like decals much at the best of times but these were not a pleasure to use, being both very stiff and disinterested in conforming and lacking in much adhesion generally. 

 

As a consequence, I just shelved this until I could muster the right amount of contempt to defeat them, which I did yesterday.

 

I just applied a matt clearcoat which to be honest I am not happy with. It seems the model was attracting dust and fluff as I was spraying it.

 

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Thanks Mike :D

 

I don't know how many of you are Facebook users? If you are and follow some suitably themed pages or groups you may have seen yesterday that Paul G Allen's extended exploration with the RV Petrel and crew has turned up a number of long-lost wrecks in the Pacific. Yesterday, he announced that they have found the wreck of USS Lexington CV-2 which as you may know was sunk at Coral Sea in the south Pacific 76 years ago, just days before the Battle of Midway which was a major turning point in the war in the Pacific. The wreck is sitting 2 miles down, the right way up and in astonishingly good condition similar to USS Yorktown CV-5. Near to the wreck are several of Lexington's aircraft - and I think you will agree that the condition of these is nothing short of astonishing.

 

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Coral Sea was the last successful TBD-1 operation.

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Read about this in the Mail Online.  I’ve read several books and articles on Coral Sea and Midway but the best so far is Craig L Symonds’ The Battle of Midway (pub 2011).  Almost forgot to breathe in the run up to the attacks by the TBDs and the SBDs.  A really  good read.

 

Nice work so far.  Would like to build one myself but too many in the queue.

 

Cheers

 

Dennis

 

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